The Best Laptops 2018-2019-Under$500-$1000 You Can Buy
Best laptops 2018-2019-best laptops 2018 under 500-1000 . best laptop 2019 under 500, best budget laptop 2019-2020-In the modern day and age, laptops are becoming more and more essential to the general public, it doesn’t matter if you want to have a portal machine that’s good for gaming, or handling workload, there are plenty of options available for you should you wish to go ahead and spend the money.best budget laptop 2018-2019,best laptop 2018 under 500 are available in the market.
Thanks to the ever evolving technology, laptops have become a lot more powerful, as well as efficient than they used to be. You’re no longer required to plug in your laptop into the charging after every hour or so, and those big cooling pads are slowly becoming a thing of past.
Companies like Dell, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and Acer are working day and night to improve what’s already better, and believe it or not, they’re succeeding very well. This has allowed them to release some of their most amazing laptops list in the market for the consumers.
Best laptops 2018-2019-best laptops 2018 under 500-1000
If you’re new to this laptop buying experience, you’re going to be welcomed with plethora of machines that will suit your needs, as well as your budgets. However, at the same time, the chances of you getting stuck in confusion are also there, thanks to how saturated the market is.
Keeping that in mind, we’ve prepared a list of 10 best laptops 2018 that you can buy at the moment; whether you buy them locally, or choose Amazon, these laptops are amazing in every possible way. Whether you want to game, or work, the list has enough options for you to choose from.
Best laptops 2018-2019 You Can Buy 2018
1. Dell XPS 13 (2018)
For almost everyone this is the best laptop money can buy in 2017
CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Slim, light, powerful and majestic, Dell’s 2017 flagship XPS 13 is the best laptop in the world at the time of this writing. Perhaps stifled by the fact that a more aesthetically pleasing Alpine White model is on its way, the version we’ve reviewed ought to satisfy your craving for a top-notch Windows Ultrabook in the meantime. Whether for its powerful Intel Kaby Lake processors ranging from i3 to i7 or for its nigh-bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, which shoves a 13.3-inch screen into an 11-inch frame, the Dell XPS 13 makes a significant splash on the competition. Not only that, but the port selection is equally on point. Compared to Apple’s exclusive USB-C approach, Dell’s flagship notebook impresses with – in addition to USB-C – USB 3.0 along with the elusive SD card slot. Bearing in mind those facets alone, it’s no wonder the Dell XPS 13 is the most popular WIndows laptop in the world. Yet it gets even better. You also get the choice of a super high-res or multi-touch screen as well as a breadth of options for storage and memory. Or you can save on cash and opt for more conservative specs.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
A brilliant all-rounder laptop that punches above its weight
CPU: Intel Core i3 – i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch up to QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 256GB SSD
Behold the Asus ZenBook UX310UA, a laptop that sidesteps the lofty price of the Dell XPS 13 without compromising on performance. It doesn’t quite look or feel as nice as the Dell above, and the battery life isn’t as good, but you can still expect an all-aluminum frame and fantastic performance from a 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor – whether that’s of the i3 or i5 variety is entirely up to you. Additionally, you can choose between a full HD, 1080p display or a brilliant 3,200 x 1,800-pixel, QHD+ screen with 30% more pixels compared with Apple’s 13-inch Retina screens. No matter what model you go for, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA is one of the best laptops you can buy.
A wonderfully versatile and cheap 2-in-1 laptop
CPU: Intel Atom x5-Z8550 | Graphics: Intel Atom | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 10.1-inch full HD IPS touchscreen | Storage: 64GB SSD, up to 128GB microSD
If you’re after a cheap laptop that offers something a bit special, look no further than the Lenovo Yoga Book 2017. As with all Yoga devices, the screen folds flat so you can use it either as a tablet or a laptop. To add more versatility, Lenovo has now added the option to buy it with either Windows 10 or Android 6.0 onboard – which one you choose will depend how you’re more likely to use the device. The screen on this thing defies the cheap asking price and the keyboard and capacitive touch-keyboard are both fantastic too. This is a great option if you want something cheap for basic computing tasks, for creating art using the built-in Wacom digitizer or a train device for watching movies. But for more heavy lifting you’d be better off choosing one of the options above as the Intel Atom CPU in this thing is great at saving power and making the battery last for ages but not so good at super speedy processing.
The best Macbook Pro ever, now with Touch Bar
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 – 650 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
If you’re after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, we suggest you welcome the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. Despite Microsoft’s claims that its Surface Book 2 is twice as powerful as Apple’s flagship MacBook Pro, it’s also more expensive at the starting level. Of course, the headline feature is the Touch Bar – it’s a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used for any number of things, whether that be auto-suggesting words as you type or offering Touch ID so you can log in with just your fingerprint. If you’re a massive fan of the Macbook Pro 2017, you’ll be happy with this model but there are some serious reasons why you should consider one of the Windows alternatives. As we said before, it’s not as powerful, the screen is lower-res versus the competition and isn’t touchscreen friendly, plus the battery is a bit disappointing, too. So, if you’re open to switching to a PC, definitely consider the XPS 13 as a more modern, cheaper alternative. But, if you’re a steadfast Apple diehard, this is definitely the best laptop for you!
The coolest ever Macbook is super slim
CPU: Intel Core M3 1.2GHz – Intel Core i7 1.4GHz | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 12-inch, (2,304 x 1440) IPS 16:10 | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
The Macbook Air is dead, but it’s only the beginning for the new Apple MacBook. Not only is it the slimmest, sleekest and best-looking Macbook Apple has ever built, it’s one of the most popular and best-selling laptops on the planet. It will not serve as a main productivity machine – it’s a lot less powerful than the Macbook Pro and has only one IO port in the form of USB Type-C. But, in terms of being a super slim and light Macbook that you can take anywhere without even noticing the weight, and giving you the same slick OS X performance, the Macbook is a beautiful machine.
The best gaming laptop out there right now
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad core 3.8GHz) | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 + Intel HD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD (120Hz with Nvidia G-Sync) | Storage: 512GB SSD
Part of a new generation of Max-Q gaming laptops in 2017, the Asus ROG Zephyrus is both ridiculously powerful and astonishingly thin and light. Make no mistake, this thing is large compared to a Macbook Pro or Dell XPS 13, but compared to gaming laptops of the past this effort from Asus is something of a holy grail achievement. Your expectations of a 15-inch gaming laptop will never be the same after seeing the Zephyrus in action. It’s expensive of course, but with powerful Core i7 CPU and GTX 1080 graphics it’ll be easily powerful enough to play the best games for many years to come on the built-in 1080p screen. It’s an ideal top-end desktop replacement that is, possibly for the first time ever, also extremely portable.
The best gaming laptop for those on a budget
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ (quad core 3.5GHz) | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti + Intel HD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD | Storage: 256GB SSD
If you’re after a new gaming laptop and you don’t have the kind of money that you need for the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 above, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop is your best option. It comes in at well under half the price and offers absolutely fantastic value for money. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics chip is easily powerful enough to lubricate the best games on the built-in 1080p display while general performance in Windows is super slick thanks to the Core i5 CPU. If you’re going to be moving around a bit, you’ll be pleased to know that the battery life on this laptop is also superb – we got nearly 8 hours out of it while watching HD video. A gaming session with Tom Clancy’s The Division on medium settings for two hours only dropped the battery to 66%. This is far better than similarly priced rivals. So in the reasonably-priced category, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is definitely the best laptop around at the moment.
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A premium Chromebook well worth its lofty price
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch QHD (2,400 x 1,600) LCD touchscreen | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
Designed for users hoping to avert the complicated nature of a Windows PC or Mac, Chromebooks have been a raging success in recent years as a result of their accessibility. The Google Pixelbook is no exception. Although it’s double the price of the average Chrome OS device and doesn’t come with a stylus as you might expect, the Pixelbook is built to withstand the future. It has a pair of Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports for accessories and super fast file transfers, a hinge that flips inside out for watching movies on planes and – perhaps best of all – Android app support. Now, there are still some kinks to work out, but you can access the entire Google Play store on the Pixelbook, from playing Sonic the Hedgehog to watching videos in VLC. And, with a battery life of 7 hours and 40 minutes in our own testing, you can do so for a while without recharging.
See more like this: The best Chromebooks 2018
Microsoft’s Windows tablet is a brilliant 2-in-1 option
CPU: Intel Core m3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 8MP rear-facing, 5MP front-facing
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is 2017’s best laptop for you if you’re looking for the perfect cross between a nimble Windows tablet and a fully functional laptop. The base version of the Surface Pro 4 is just a tablet – you get the main unit itself with kickstand but if you want the Surface Pen or the fantastic Type Cover keyboard you’ll need to pay extra for a bundle or buy it separately. Often the best value option is a bundle but even the tablet on its own represents pretty good value. The Surface Pro, alongside the also-excellent Surface Book laptop, is to Windows what the Pixel is to Google’s Android. It’s the benchmark Windows device, with software and hardware working together in perfect harmony. So if you need a new laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro is the best does-it-all 2-in-1 option. If you want this but need something a little cheaper, check out the Acer Switch 3 below!
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
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10. Acer Switch 3
A great Surface Pro competitor at half the price
CPU: 1.10GHz Intel Pentium Quad Core N4200 – Intel Core i3 7100U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.2-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD touchscreen | Storage: 64GB – 128GB eMMC
If you want the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 but you want to spend a lot less, the Acer Switch 3 2017 is definitely the your best option. It’s designed around essentially the same concept as the Surface Pro and it’s a less capable thanks to slightly lower power innards, but for most tasks it’s a brilliant little machine. What’s more, to add further value this 2-in-1 laptop/tablet comes with the keyboard upgrade which means no little extras to pay for. As usual it comes in several different versions, with USB Type-C, 8GB RAM, an IPS display and Intel Core i3 7100U CPU coming with the more expensive option.
It wasn’t long ago that the “under $500” batch of laptops were thought to cheaply made, with poor battery lives and underpowered processors. But in 2017, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and the current crop of fully loaded affordable laptops can make you wonder why you would even need to pay an arm and a leg for the latest gadget.
Over the past three years in particular, many people are now recognizing that the processing power on offer in modern budget laptops far exceeds their daily requirements. All of the laptops on our list can be used to browse the Internet, play high-definition movies and edit office documents without skipping a beat. For many consumers, this is more than enough.
From the sleek Asus F556UA-AB32 to the Asus Transformer Book T300CHI that will double as a tablet, here are the best laptops under $500.
The Asus F556UA-AB32’s sleek black matte finish feels much more premium than its price point would suggest. It runs on Windows 10 and includes a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i3 processor, a 15.6-inch screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution, one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port and one USB3.1 Type C port. The 802.11ac wireless capability means that you’ll have super fast Internet connectivity, while the 4 GB of RAM and 1,000 GB hard drive will allow you to store plenty of files, songs and movies. One of the downsides is that the laptop weighs 5.1 pounds, but all things considered it delivers the oomph you’re looking for in the under $500 space. Plus, the price includes a one-year international warranty with one-year accidental damage protection, just in case you drop it or spill something on it.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: HP Pavilion x360
If our overall winner doesn’t strike your fancy, turning your eye to the HP Pavilion x360 might be a good idea. Released at the tail end of summer 2016, the newest generation of the X360 introduces a well-performing machine at a sub-$500 price point. The 13.3-inch HD IPS 1366 x 76-pixel display is paired with a 6th generation Intel Core i3 2.3GHz processor, 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. At 3.6 pounds, the x360 is still portable even as it adds a full chassis to turn the display a full 360-degrees to enter tablet mode.
Featuring Windows 10, the x360 offers a full range of capabilities and power that you’d expect from a higher-priced machine. The combination of the processor and RAM provide plenty of horsepower to run multiple tabs in any browser alongside streaming music and Word processing. When it comes to all that work, the x360 offers just over 6.5 hours of battery life, which is lower than the ultraportable average, but a tradeoff for a 2-in-1 machine that offers above-average display and a solidly built frame.
The TrueVision HD webcam takes color-accurate photos while including digital microphones that are perfect for Skype phone calls. Additionally, HP has included multi-touch gesture support with the touchpad that pairs nicely with the keyboard, and it feels as sturdy as the computer itself. Unfortunately, Amazon’s write-up notes the x360 includes Ethernet support, but early reviews have said this is not accurate.
When it comes to creative work on a laptop, finding a machine that handles day-to-day work can be challenging until you find the Acer Aspire E-15. Powered by a 7th generation Intel Core i5 3.1GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD drive, the Acer brings more than enough power to the table to handle applications such as Photoshop or video editing. Additionally, the inclusion of a NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card with 2GB of independent memory will aid in both entertainment and productivity needs.
All this work is done on a 15.6-inch full HD 1920 x 1080-pixel matte display which helps reduce glares and reflections. Utilizing an external mouse to aid in more fine-grain Photoshopping is welcomed thanks to a bevy of ports, including one USB 3.1 Type C, two USB 3.0 and an SD slot. As a bonus, you’ll even find a DVD drive, though it could have been removed to make the Acer slightly lighter. At 5.3 pounds, the Acer is no Ultrabook and even though it has a 12-hour battery life, there’s still a good chance this computer isn’t moving from a desk.
For the creative types that focus on editing video, the inclusion of Acer’s TrueHarmony speakers offers a rich audio experience that helps limit audio distortion and includes enough volume to fill a room. And if you’re working remotely, the HD webcam will help you jump on Skype and talk to your colleagues or clients anywhere in the world.
Best 2-in-1: Asus Transformer Book T300CHI
Competition in the Windows 10 2-in-1 space heats up more and more every day, but it’s the Asus Transformer Book T300CHI that steals the spotlight. The inclusion of a fan-less Intel Core M processor, full-size keyboard cover and 12.5-inch 1080p touchscreen display offers exceptional value. The T300 comes with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, as well as Windows 8.1. At 12.38″ x 7.52″ x .63″ and 1.59 pounds, the T300 offers no additional ports save for the microUSB charging opening. When you attach the keyboard, the aluminum-based T300 build jumps to 3.2 pounds all while feeling far more expensive than its actual asking price.
As a 2-in-1, the 1920 x 1080 touchscreen display showcases clear and crisp text and offers a fantastic movie-viewing experience, while the included SonicMaster speakers are good enough for traditional use. The six hours of battery life means t’s a good idea to keep a charger nearby if you’re on the road.
Best Budget: Asus E402MA
If budget is your chief concern and you’re willing to make a few sacrifices, the Asus E402MA may be the laptop for you. It is one of the cheapest notebooks out there, yet it still sports a 14” display capable of a 1366 x 768 resolution, 64-bit Windows 10 operating system, full-size keyboard and a battery capable of running for around seven hours between charges.
The 32 GB hard drive is a bit tight, especially considering Windows 10 alone will take up nearly half of that space, and with only 2 GB of ram you’re not going to be able to run more than one or two applications concurrently without noticing a slowdown in responsiveness. Consider the E402MA just enough computer to get the job done, but excellent value for money.
Best Design: Samsung Chromebook Plus Convertible Touch Laptop
Samsung has made many well-designed electronics in the past, including high-end laptops, TVs and smartphones. So we’re not entirely surprised to see a cool new entry from Samsung in the budget laptop arena. Say hello to the Samsung Chromebook Plus, a hybrid laptop/tablet that lets you use it in nearly any way you can imagine.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus measures 8.72 x 11.04 x .55 inches and weighs 2.4 pounds. It has a 12.3-inch LED screen that rotates 360 degrees and it is made with Gorilla Glass 3 to be more durable. On the inside, this machine has 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of flash memory storage, which will keep your apps and browser tabs running smoothly.
Chromebooks have gotten much more powerful and versatile in the last few years. They still run the Chrome OS and center around using the browser or Google Play Apps, but the experience is much more seamless now. This model is no exception and can do nearly anything a Windows PC can do, so we have no problem recommending it.
Runner-Up, Best Budget: HP Notebook 15
The latest edition of the HP Notebook 15 is a surprising Windows 10 laptop that packs a lot of features into a sub-$300 machine. This laptop may not impress power-hungry users, but it will do the job for casual users that need to accomplish basic tasks in a timely fashion.
The Notebook 15 has a 15.6-inch screen with 1366-by-768 resolution, a 500 GB hard drive, an SD media card reader, a DVD/CD burner, as well as a VGA webcam with a digital microphone. For ports, there’s one Ethernet, one HDMI, two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0 and a headphone/microphone combo jack. One of the standout features of this model is its 4GB of RAM, which is incredibly important for keeping your machine running smoothly and not something we often see on models in this price range. (Usually you’ll see models with a paltry 2GB of RAM, which is often not enough to keep things running at a fast clip.)
This machine measures 10 x 15.1 x .9 inches and is a little heavy at 4.74 pounds, so it’s probably not one you’ll want to carry around everywhere. It would make sense as a home or work laptop that’s mostly used in one place. Thankfully, it does offer 5.5-hour battery life, so if you do need to take it anywhere, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Best for Portability: Microsoft’s Surface 3
Microsoft’s Surface 3 has the perfect combination of power, portability and popularity. The magnesium-alloy body holds a 10.8-inch 1920 x 1280 display, Intel Atom Z8700 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 64GB flash storage drive. The Intel Atom processor can’t match up to the Pro’s Intel Core-series, but it offers more than enough speed to perform all the daily tasks you want and then some. With Windows 10 on board out of the box, it’s pretty much “touch” and go right when you receive the Surface 3 in the mail.
Microsoft has positioned the Surface 3 as a tablet that can replace your laptop and portability is a central piece of that argument. At 1.37 pounds before the keyboard, the Surface 3 feels premium and now includes a more user-friendly Micro-USB charging port. The adjustable kickstand on the rear works at three separate angles. Perhaps the lone drawback of the Surface 3 is the separate purchase of the keyboard.
Portability aside, the Surface 3 retains a slew of ports to help you not miss a beat while traveling, including a microSD card reader for extra storage and MiniDisplay port for connection to a larger monitor. Microsoft includes a one-year subscription to Office 365 alongside a bevy of other applications that are must-haves. Additionally, with 10 hours of battery life, there’s enough juice for a full day at work and Netflix at night.
How to Find the Right Laptop
When shopping for a laptop, there’s a lot to consider. To help you choose a system, we’ve put our up-to-date list of favorite notebooks above, along with five points to keep in mind when choosing a system.
Budget: Over $700 for High-Quality
How much can you spend? Better-quality mainstream laptops usually cost more than $700 and premium Ultrabooks can run over $1,000. However, you can find serviceable Windows laptops and high-quality Chromebooks for under $500.
Screen Size: 12 to 14 inches for Portability
Knowing a laptop’s screen size tells you a lot about its portability overall. If you want to use your computer on your lap or carry it around a lot, go for one with a 12, 13 or 14-inch display. If you want to use the computer on tables and desks and won’t carry it around much, a 15-inch model may give you more value. Some gaming rigs, media machines and workstations even have 17 or 18-inch screens, but those are really hard to carry.
2-in-1 or Clamshell?
More and more of today’s laptops are 2-in-1s with screens that either bend back 360 degrees or detach so you can use them as tablets. If you like the idea of using your laptop in slate mode for drawing, media consumption or just using it standing up, a 2-in-1 could be for you. However, you can often get better features or a lower price by going with a traditional clamshell-style laptop.
Battery Life: 8+ Hours for Portability
Unless you only plan to use your laptop on your desk, battery life matters. Even within the home or office, having plenty of juice enables you to work on the couch or at the conference table, without being chained to the nearest outlet. For the best portability, we recommend getting a laptop that lasted over 8 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test. The longest-lasting laptops endure for over 10 hours.
Specs: 1080p / Core i5 / 8GB Are Best Bets
You can spend a lot of time delving into specs, but here are the key components to think about. If you just want really good mainstream performance, go for a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p screen.
- Screen Resolution: If at all possible, get a display with a 1920 x 1080 (aka 1080p or full HD) or higher resolution.
- CPU: An Intel Core i5 provides good mainstream performance. Some budget systems will come with Core i3, Celeron or Pentium CPUs which are good enough for basic tasks, but not heavy mutltiasking. Get a Core i7 or a quad core processor (serial number ends in HQ or HK) for gaming or high-end productivity tasks such as video editing and 3D modeling.
- RAM: 8GB is ideal for most users. 4GB is acceptable for budget systems. Secondary laptops and Chromebooks may have less.
- Storage: Unless you’re a gamer or a power user, 256GB of internal storage is probably enough. If at all possible, get an SSD (Solid State Drive) rather than a hard drive, because it’s going to make your entire computer a lot faster.
- Graphics Chip: Gamers and creative professionals need to do some research and figure out which discrete GPU is good enough to run their favorite software. Everyone else will be happy with the built-in Intel HD Graphics that come on the CPU.
How will you use your laptop?
- Light use: Surfing the Web, paying bills online, e-mail and social networking, organizing and sharing digital photos.
- Average use: Storing and streaming music and movies, tasks like spreadsheet and document creation.
- Demanding use: Multitasking with multiple tabs and programs, sophisticated graphics and photo editing, and video production.
More demanding users will want to invest a bit more in a higher resolution screen, a faster processor, more system memory, and a larger hard drive.
How important is portability to you?
Screen size, the type and capacity of built-in storage devices, and the presence or lack of a CD/DVD or Blu-ray drive all affect a laptop’s size and weight. Laptops generally fall into three categories of weight:
- 3 lbs. or less: These streamlined laptops are great for students and travelers who need to perform basic e-mailing and Web surfing tasks on the go.
- 4–5 lbs.: This midrange selection provides a balance between power and portability, great for users who occasionally work from coffee shops or airports.
- 6 lbs. or more: These workhorses provide powerful processing and larger screens, ideal for gamers and professionals who rarely use their laptops away from their desks.
Does your laptop look and feel right?
You can learn a lot about a laptop by handling it. Hinges and clasps should feel sturdy enough to withstand daily use. Test the lid and body — typically made from plastics or aluminums — to see if they are adequately rigid and lightweight. Make sure that the keyboard’s spacing and depth allow for comfortable typing. The trackpad and mouse buttons should allow you to solidly click, scroll and zoom without skipping. Also, if you rely on 10-key for data entry, be sure the machine you select has a numeric keypad. If you won’t have an opportunity to check it out in person, you can still check product pages and user reviews for recurring comments about look, feel and build quality.
The operating system is the heart of your laptop. It manages all software and hardware, including files, memory and connected devices. Most importantly, it lets you interact with your laptop and your programs in a visual way (otherwise, you’d be typing a bunch of computer code to get anything done).
Installed exclusively on Mac computers, OS X boasts an elegant and easy-to-use interface to complement Macs’ sleek aesthetics and impressive battery life. Macs have historically had fewer issues with viruses and malware. However, MacBooks start at a higher price point than other laptops, and no Mac model to date includes touch-screen functionality.
Windows is designed specifically around an intuitive touch-screen interface (though it can be used with a traditional mouse and keyboard), expanding your navigation options. It also features a new task manager, streamlined file management and a suite of built-in apps. Learn more about Windows 10.
Featured exclusively in the Chromebook line of mobile computers, this OS runs custom apps and cloud-based programs rather than traditional software. It’s great for surfing the Web, keeping up with your e-mail and social networks, and sharing your photos with friends and family, rather than more data-intensive tasks like video editing and hardcore gaming.
Laptop screen sizes range from about 11 to 17 inches. A larger screen is ideal for gaming, watching movies, photo and video editing, and viewing documents side by side. Keep in mind, a big screen can increase the overall size, weight and power consumption of a laptop.
Higher resolution equals better picture quality. Laptop screens come in a range of resolutions (measured in pixels, horizontal x vertical):
- HD: 1366 x 768 resolution is standard on mainstream laptops. Good for Web-surfing, e-mail and basic computing tasks.
- HD+: 1600 x 900 resolution is great for casual gaming and watching DVD movies.
- Full HD: 1920 x 1080 resolution allows you to watch Blu-ray movies and play video games without losing any level of detail.
- Retina display: 2304 x 1440, 2560 x 1600 and 2880 x 1800 resolutions are found in Apple’s 12″, 13.3″ and 15.6″ laptop displays, respectively.
- QHD (Quad HD) and QHD+: With 2560 x 1440 and 3200 x 1800 resolutions, respectively, the extremely high pixel density creates crisp detail and sharp text, ideal for professional photo and graphics work as well as high-def movies and games.
- 4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 resolution boasts four times the pixels of Full HD, creating rich colors and images for viewing and editing incredibly lifelike images and graphics.
Different display technologies yield different colors and brightness levels. Many laptops employ LED backlighting, which can display bright colors without draining the battery. If you plan to use your laptop to watch movies and shows with a friend, choose a display with an IPS panel for wider viewing angles. Screens with a glossy finish generally provide richer colors and darker blacks, while matte displays will reduce glare if you frequently work outdoors or near windows.
Touch-screen laptops make navigating on your computer more intuitive. Tap to select, hold and drag to move items, swipe to scroll and pinch to zoom, just as you would on a smartphone or tablet. Currently available on many Windows laptops and select Chromebooks.
Your laptop’s processor is like its brain. Working in combination with system memory, the power of the processor determines the complexity of software you can run, how many programs you can have open at the same time, and how fast those programs will run. Most laptops feature an Intel® or AMD processor.
Intel’s processors are at the heart of every modern MacBook and the majority of Windows laptops. Most prevalent are Intel’s Core ™ series of multicore processors:
- Core i7: Intel’s top-of-the-line consumer processor. The choice of “power users” like hardcore gamers, graphic designers, photographers and videographers. It excels at serious multitasking and high-demand multimedia creation for projects in 3D or high definition.
- Core i5: Mid-grade Core processor and one of the most common Intel processors currently in use. Powerful enough for most computing tasks, and multitasks well so you can stream the big football game while looking up stats and sending e-mails.
- Core i3: The entry-level Core processor, more than adequate for everyday e-mail, Internet and productivity tasks. It’s also fine for common activities like listening to music.
- Core M: A processor designed for ultraslim devices, providing plenty of power for day-to-day surfing and e-mailing without being a major drain on battery life.
In value-priced laptops, you’ll also see Intel’s Pentium® and Celeron® processors. These are adequate for basic e-mail, Internet and productivity tasks, but their speed and multitasking capabilities are limited relative to those of the Core family.
AMD has two categories of processors that are most common:
FX and A-Series: Like Intel’s Core chips, these processors include a graphics processor built into the same chip. In order from top-of-the-line to entry level, they include:
- FX: Best Buy-exclusive powerhouse for serious gaming and heavy multitasking
- A10: AMD’s flagship chip, with blazing quad-core speed and exceptional graphics performance
- A8: Improved graphics performance enables immersive 3D gaming in HD
- A6: Smoother video streaming and enhanced photo quality
- A4: Responsive performance for music, photos and video
E-Series: Similar to Intel’s Celeron and Pentium processors, these are value-oriented chips with limited speed and multitasking capabilities. They’re appropriate for basic computing tasks like e-mail, Web surfing and word processing.
Variances exist within processor classes. Laptops designed for exceptional battery life often incorporate an ultra-low-voltage version of the listed processor, which usually sacrifices processing speed.
For heavy graphics work or gaming, choose a laptop with a dedicated graphics card and video memory. Having separate resources for your graphics allows for faster, smoother processing while you’re watching movies, playing games or multitasking.
Random-access memory, or RAM, is important because it helps your processor tackle multiple tasks at once. A minimum of 2GB is required for basic computing, but 6GB or more is recommended if you’re into graphics and advanced photo or video editing. Most laptops have 4GB–8GB pre-installed, and some have up to 32GB. If you think you might need more memory later, choose a model that lets you expand the RAM.
Traditional hard disk drives offer larger storage capacities, but add to a laptop’s weight and thickness while generating heat and noise. Alternatively, solid state drives (also known as SSDs or flash storage) are much lighter, faster, cooler and quieter than hard drives — but they’re also much more expensive per GB, so typically provide less storage space. Some laptops feature a hybrid drive, which combines a hard drive with a solid state drive for the benefits of both.
Hard Disk Drives
Traditional, mechanical hard disk drives are the most common type of storage because they’re relatively inexpensive and offer huge capacities. However, they also add significantly to a laptop’s weight and thickness, and generate both heat and noise. They come in two standard speeds: A 5400 rpm drive is sufficient for day-to-day Web surfing, e-mailing and document creation, but a 7200 rpm drive transfers data more quickly and may be worth considering if you regularly work with large files.
Solid-state drives, also known as SSDs (or, in Apple’s case, “flash storage”), are many times faster than hard disk drives, but typically offer far less capacity. SSDs also offer tremendous advantages in physical size, weight and power efficiency, along with negligible heat production and noiseless operation, making them an ideal choice for ultraslim, ultralightweight laptops. And unlike hard disks, SSDs have no moving parts to wear out.
Some laptops employ an SSD for all storage. Others dedicate a smaller SSD to house the operating system and applications (enabling faster start-up) and add a traditional hard drive for general data storage.
Manufacturers’ battery-life claims range from just a few hours up to 12 hours or more.
Laptop enhancements — such as increased processing power, larger and higher resolution screens, faster hard drives, or the addition of an optical drive — will drain your battery more quickly.
Ports and Connectivity
Laptops typically provide several options for staying connected to the Internet as well as to other devices. Most laptops provide the latest wireless standards plus Bluetooth capabilities so you can easily sync your smartphone, speakers and other portable devices.
If you are a frequent traveler, consider a laptop that connects to the 4G LTE network so you can access the Web even when you’re not near a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Keep an eye out for the following ports that are commonly used for connecting to TVs, cameras and other devices:
- USB 2.0: Connects external drives, gaming controllers, smartphones, MP3 players and other accessories.
- USB 3.0: Transfers data faster than USB 2.0, but only when used with USB 3.0 devices.
- USB Type-C: Provides blazing speeds and versatile power, featuring connectors with identical ends that plug in upside down or right-side up. Adapters allow for video as well as backward compatibility.
- Thunderbolt: Ultra-high bandwidth for fast data transfer between devices featuring a Thunderbolt or MiniDisplayPort connection.
- HDMI: Connect a projector or display HD media on your flat-screen TV.
- Media-card slots: Transfer photos from your digital camera or camcorder.
Designed specifically for high-performance games and tasks on the go, gaming laptops provide boosted power and beefed-up features. Advanced processors and graphics cards allow for faster, smoother gameplay, while enhanced speakers and larger screen sizes help bring the game to life. Some gaming laptops also include programmable keys, color-coded backlit keyboards and additional ports for convenient connectivity.
However, these resource-intensive features often heat up the laptop while cutting down on battery life and portability. Consider how often you’ll be taking your gaming on the road, and choose a laptop with a cooling system that leaves your hands comfortable and your graphics smooth.
If you like the power of a laptop but also need the portability of a tablet, consider a 2-in-1 (also known as “convertible” or “hybrid”) laptop. These devices provide the functionality of touch-screen laptops with versatile displays that shift or detach into a tablet. Best Buy offers a wide selection of 2-in-1s whose displays can twist, fold, hang or lock in place, providing the perfect angle for presenting at work or catching up on your favorite show on the couch.